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Meet Lauren Jacobs and Chelsea Croce of Doulas of Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Jacobs and Chelsea Croce.

Lauren and Chelsea, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We both started out as independent/solo doulas. Our individual journeys to doula work are unique with Lauren starting as a Prenatal Yoga Instructor and delving into doula work at the encouragement of her mentor and Chelsea being inspired to become a professional doula while trying to conceive her first child. We both discovered an innate desire to support women and families to have more positive, empowering experiences during the childbearing years.

As independent doulas we each found an increased need for continuity of care and a higher standard for doula work. As with all professions there is a wide spectrum of commitment and professionalism, but we desired to elevate the professional role of a doula and create sustainability in our careers. Not to mention, we felt passionate about supporting families in a truly non-judgmental capacity. As individuals we envisioned the impact of working together as an agency being much more powerful, than attempting to go it alone. Thus OC’s premier doula agency was born in 2014.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Is anything in business ever smooth??

Categorically, we’d say that it has been quite the roller coaster. Entrepreneurship presents many challenges and constantly forces us to step outside of our comfort zones, both personally and professionally. The highs have been incredibly high and the lows have made us second guess ourselves as to if this was all really worth it.

In general, we agree that the work-life balance has been the hardest.

At the launch of our agency, Chelsea was pregnant with her first child and working to establish a new, thriving business. Multi-tasking motherhood, and business ownership was overwhelming to say the least. Additionally, the leap from working a 9-5 job in an office, to now being on-call 24/7 and being solely responsible for her income was an immense challenge.

For Lauren, after working for 8 years as an independent doula, coming together and collaborating with a partner was tough. No longer the sole decision maker, she had to learn to listen & compromise and work toward the betterment of the company as a whole. Not to mention that now a team of doulas was relying on her. This realization came with a ton of pressure.

Despite these struggles, we know that in the end it is all worth it! We’re committed to making a positive impact in the support we provide families in Orange County.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Doulas of Orange County – what should we know?
Doulas of Orange County is a full service doula agency. Our highly trained team of doulas and professionals offers Birth & Postpartum Doula support, Placenta Encapsulation, Postpartum Wellness services, and Maternity & Baby Concierge services. We also teach a wide variety of birth & parenting preparation classes at our parent community center in Irvine, CA.

As Doulas we support families through every stage of the childbearing years. We offer education, practical planning, emotional support and 24/7 on-call care for all of our clients. These services expand into additional postpartum wellness in the form of belly binding and infant feeding consultations.

We are known for providing completely non-judgmental and compassionate care. We do not have an agenda when it comes to our support and we make that known from day one in our work with our clients and community. There is a common misconception about doulas, that they’ll only work with natural birth or attachment parents. That is not the case with Doulas of Orange County. We support you in however you choose to birth or parent.

Additionally, we are known for our passion in changing the way we look at the postpartum year. Our society has this twisted expectation of “bouncing back” in days or weeks after having a baby. We recognize that this isn’t a realistic expectation for every mom or family. Parenting is tough. Recovering from birth is tough.

Adjusting to all these changes is tough. But we know and we preach that you are capable and you can do hard things. We seek to support all of our clients with unbiased care & education within the trenches of parenthood.

Our postpartum doulas will be there at 2am when your baby wakes for yet another feed. She will be the shoulder you can cry on when the hormones rage and your nipples crack. Her expert guidance will help you learn how to get to know your baby and learn his/her unique cues. She’ll be there with swaddling and soothing support during that witching hour when nothing seems to calm your baby. Her nourishing meals will soothe your soul and her reassuring encouragement will build your confidence as a new parent. As a trusted friend, you will receive space to nap, shower, and take time for yourself while your doula nurtures & cares for your baby. Her compassion will guide you through some of the toughest days & nights of your life.

One of the things we are proudest of is the community we cultivate by offering various support groups and meetups for new moms & dads. Our free weekly New Mama Cafe is a popular gathering for Orange County moms to receive mom-to-mom support in a welcoming, relaxed environment. Moms can share their struggles and joys and learn that they aren’t alone in the roller coaster that is mom-life. For those who desire more comprehensive support, our bi-monthly, therapist-led Balance After Baby group provides a safe outlet for processing these same challenges. We recognize that dads matter too and offer various events throughout the year for the Dads of OC.

Birth Doulas are a pretty well-known concept these days, but we still find that there are some common misconceptions. One, which we already mentioned is that we only support certain kinds of families. Another is that Doulas are anti-doctor or anti-hospital. For us, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As professionals, we seek respectful collaboration with all of the OBGYNS or Midwives caring for our clients. We recognize the value in cohesive care and abiding by our scope of practice as doulas. We believe that when doulas and care providers work together, it results in increased patient satisfaction and a more positive experience for all.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
This year we’ve taken many leaps of faith. We like to say that we’re both recovering people pleasers and with that need to please others, we used to operate out of fear of challenging the status quo. For a long time, we played it safe, personally & professionally. But something magical happened when we came together in a partnership… we decided that people pleasing wasn’t serving our clients or our business well and we decided to stop operating out of that place of fear. Instead, we started saying yes to scary and hard things and pushed our comfort zones.

A perfect example of this is the decision to rent a new space in Irvine. Our first office was located in Costa Mesa and while we loved it, we outgrew it. We made the decision to find a much larger space that would allow us room to grow and really expand our calendar of classes & events. The rent was much higher and we had to make a huge financial investment to get the space just right, not only logistically, but aesthetically as well. It was a scary decision because “What would happen if we failed?!” But we took a deep breath and jumped, fully trusting that our mission as a company was worth the risk. We couldn’t be happier with our vision for the future and look forward to more leaps of faith as well as a long tenure of serving growing families in Orange County (and beyond)!

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